April 18

A Guide To Hiring Kitchen Workers


Solid Kitchen Workers Can Be Difficult To Find. Here’s Our Guide to Making That Hiring Process Easier!

Kitchen workers are the backbone of any restaurant—they are the ones who work tirelessly behind the scenes, cranking out dishes day after day, night after night, so customers can eat amazingly delicious, high-quality food.

Finding folks for the back-of-house is no easy task—especially in a post-pandemic world where it seems every restaurant is looking for new kitchen workers.

You’ll need to take strategic steps to ensure you’re hiring workers of the right caliber to fit your restaurant’s needs.
In this post, we will cover the responsibilities of each position and the best way to approach hiring quality kitchen staff. 

Kitchen Workers and Their Responsibilities

There are a lot of kitchen worker positions in a traditional French kitchen hierarchy (called a brigade). 

For the sake of simplicity and because only some restaurants follow the French brigade system, we will cover the most common positions and the duties each kitchen worker must perform.


Description: The chef sits at the top of the kitchen worker food chain and is the leader of the back-of-house. They are responsible for overseeing all kitchen and culinary operations. This role requires extensive culinary experience, strong leadership skills, and creative vision.


  • Train and supervise kitchen workers, making sure standards are met and kept high
  • Manage food costs and keep spending within budget
  • Develop and design a menu that fits with the restaurant’s theme
  • Collaborate with the rest of the house management team on marketing, promotions, and special events
  • Ensure the kitchen complies with all safety and sanitation standards

Sous Chef

Description: The sous chef is second in command of the kitchen and assists the chef with managing daily operations. When the chef is out of the kitchen, the sous chef is responsible for everything that happens while they are away. Being a sous chef requires excellent culinary skills, leading and mentoring kitchen workers, and a strong sense of organization.


  • Assist chef with menu planning, development, inventory, and ordering as needed
  • Supervise and train kitchen workers, and help chef maintain quality food standards
  • Assist chef with inventory and ordering as required
  • Step in to fill any kitchen positions when necessary

Line Cook

Description: Line cooks work the various stations throughout the kitchen—grill, saute, pantry, fry, salads, etc. Line cooks work as a team to coordinate preparing dishes from their assigned stations. They must have strong culinary skills, excellent time management, and must work well under pressure.


  • Prepare ingredients and mis en place for their assigned station
  • Cook and assemble dishes according to restaurant recipes and specifications
  • Communicate effectively with other kitchen workers, especially during busy services
  • Keep their station clean, organized, and well-stocked

Prep Cook

Description: Prep cooks prepare and execute more basic cooking tasks in the kitchen. These tasks don’t require a lot of technique, and it’s usually required to work this kitchen position before being promoted to a line cook. Prep cooks need to have good organizational skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment.


  • Wash, peel, chop, and slice fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients for use in recipes
  • Measure and portion ingredients according to restaurant specifications
  • Prepare basic components of dishes, such as sauces, dressings, and uncooked items
  • Rotate and properly store perishable ingredients to ensure freshness and minimize waste


Description: A dishwasher ensures that all kitchenware, utensils, and cooking equipment are cleaned, sanitized, and ready for use. This role requires good organizational skills and the ability to work quickly for extended periods. 


  • Clean and sanitize all dishes, glassware, utensils, pots, pans, and other kitchen equipment by hand or using a commercial dishwasher
  • Sort and store clean items in their designated areas, ensuring they are readily accessible for kitchen staff
  • Remove trash and recycling, ensuring proper disposal and sanitation practices.
  • Assist with basic kitchen tasks as needed, such as sweeping, mopping, and general cleaning

The Best Way To Hire Kitchen Workers

Create Clear Job Descriptions

When creating a job description, include details about your restaurant, the hours and shifts available, and any required, must-have skills. This will help you attract kitchen workers who are not only qualified but also interested in the job.

Utilize Employee Referrals

It’s fairly common practice in the restaurant industry to hire referrals from your current staff. Don’t hesitate to ask your most reliable employees if they know anyone looking for a job. A confident in-house referral takes a lot of risk out of hiring a low-quality worker. 

To encourage employee referrals, consider offering a bonus to staff members if their referred candidate is hired and stays with the company for a certain period. This can be a win-win situation for both the employee and the employer.

Conducting Interviews

Before setting up an interview, thoroughly read the applicant’s resume. Look for frequent gaps or short stints in employment and call references—start at the bottom of the list. The references at the bottom of the list might give you a more balanced opinion of your potential hire.

When your candidate arrives, watch their body language and pay attention to the words they use—trust your gut instincts. While not perfect, first impressions are usually accurate. 

Ask your interviewee pointed questions about their history and level of experience. 

  • Some questions to consider asking during a kitchen worker interview include:
  • What kinds of kitchens have you worked in previously?
  • What were your responsibilities while working?
  • How are you with working on a team?
  • How do you prioritize tasks when working in a busy kitchen?

    If you like the answers you hear, set up a working interview or a stage (pronounced “staahj”). 

While trusting your gut is good, getting a second opinion is crucial. Having the candidate work with a trusted cook will tell you whether you’re missing something, positive or negative. Your cook can also tell you their skill level, their ability to work on a team, and how they behave when management isn’t looking.

If they feel like a good fit, give the kitchen worker a 90-day probation period. In those three months, you should know whether or not they are a benefit to your kitchen staff. 

Find Kitchen Workers on Poached

As the nation’s largest service industry job board, Poached can connect you with highly qualified kitchen workers quickly and efficiently. 

Our easy-to-use dashboard allows you to post jobs, review resumes, message candidates, and set up interviews from one location. 

Additionally, you can utilize our newest service, Poached Shifts, to book contract kitchen workers with the intent to hire. This is a great way to stage over an extended period of time so you can ensure the fit is right before bringing someone on the team full-time.

It’s super easy and can save you time and money.

Start here.

About the author

Wade Nelson

Wade Nelson is a Portland, OR native who currently resides in sunny Los Angeles. As a 25-year veteran of the service industry, Wade has worked nearly every position in the house. When Wade isn’t writing content for your favorite blogs and websites, he’s either slinging drinks at Grand Central Market in DTLA or hanging with his fiance and beagle.


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